Two counties last weekend set up County Advisory Councils (CAC) to galvanize support for Ebola survivors to participate in the Ebola Natural History Study and refer survivors for appropriate care.
The counties were Margibi and Montserrado.
The 15-person Council is headed by the Superintendents and co-chaired by the County Health Officers. Other members of the CAC include religious, communities and traditional leaders as well as Ebola survivors and civil society groups in each county.
To ensure that the goals of the CAC are realized, the Superintendants of the nine counties that were mostly affected by Ebola would provide offices for Ebola survivors in their respective counties. These offices will help to coordinate the activities of members of the Ebola Survivor Network and bring their issues for immediate attention.
The two councils were formed on Friday in Kakata and Bentol Cities, the capitals of Margibi and Montserrado counties at the start of a tour of nine counties worst affected by Ebola being undertaken by the Liberia-U.S Clinical Research Partnership otherwise known as PREVAIL.
The idea of the County Advisory Council was advanced at the close of a recent two-day County Consultative meeting held in Monrovia with superintendents, community, religious and traditional leaders and other civil society groups.
It was organized by PREVAIL to create awareness and to solicit support for the Ebola Natural History Study which will be launched on Monday, June 15 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital.
Speaking at separate occasions, Superintendents John Buway and Florence Brandy of Margibi and Montserrado welcomed the formation of the CAC as a laudable idea and commended PREVAIL for the initiative.
Superintendent Buway said there were too many organizations in their respective counties claiming to be working in the interest of Ebola survivors but little or no impact is being felt by the survivors.
The Co-Principal Investigator of the PREVAIL Three Ebola Natural History Study, Dr. Mosoka Fallah, said the formation of the CAC will, among other things, help to galvanize and coordinate support for survivors, encourage survivors to enroll in the study, coordinate support for Ebola survivors in each county, address the issue of stigmatization and vices that tend to marginalize Ebola survivors in their communities.
Other speakers, included PREVAIL’s technical Core team members, Dr. Jestina Doe Anderson, Dr. Margaret Sherman, Dr. Khalipha Bility and the lead on Social Mobilization and Communications, Julia Lysander.
The president of the Ebola Survivors of Liberia, Patrick Faley, said the establishment of County Advisory Councils would help to break what he called the “bridge of misunderstanding and myth about Ebola survivors.”
Community leaders from both counties welcomed the idea of the CAC and pledged their support to the organization. They promised to serve as a connecting link between the communities and the survivors.